Is a Property Survey Really Needed?

In the UK, a property survey is seen as essential, yet in many other parts of the World, they are either not done at all or done very infrequently. So are they really essential and if they are which one, from the list below of the three official types of survey, should you get?

  • A valuation survey
  • A home buyers report
  • A full structural survey.

Well read on and hopefully this article will help you make an educated decision as to the importance of a property survey to you and which type of survey, if any, you should opt for.

It might be wise a this point to make a distinction between a property buyer looking to purchase a property for his/her own use and a property investor.

Historically the property buyer who is looking to buy for their own use loves the survey while the property seller hates it.

One of the principal reasons for this is that some property buyers tend to see it as a great opportunity try and knock the price down by a few more hundred, thousands or even tens of thousands of pounds.

While it can be sticking point in the property negotiations it does in fact give the buyer a chance to learn what might need doing to the property in the near or distant future. This can be in valuable information so that the buyer can then make an informed decision.

Most people do not posses the relevant skills to be able to assess a property condition all by themselves. That is why Surveyors study for years to become qualified.

So for the average home buyer then getting your own property survey done is absolutely a wise thing to do. In fact it would be foolish not to. Just because a house may look sound on the outside is not necessarily a true testimony to whether it was build correctly and or whether there are inherent problems in the property that could cause you a multitude of problems in the future.

There has been reported cases of buyers buying brand new properties that look perfect on the outside but that have major problems such as the foundations haven’t been built correctly. After moving in these buyers have reported huge cracks appearing in the walls and on closer scrutiny the properties have been condemned as being unsafe.

Even though in many cases some sort of insurance may cover these issues on a new build, the inconvenience of having to move out of your dream home and live in, say a hotel, for 18 months, is enough to cause even the strongest marriage to end of on rocky ground.

That said, some experienced property investors and developers hardly ever bother with a property survey unless they have some real reservations about a property.

Is a Property Survey an Avoidable Expense for the Property Investor?

There is a train of thought that says, why bother with a survey when the mortgage lender will get their own done anyway. However, normally the mortgage lenders survey is just a valuation property survey and is really just there to make sure the building is sound to make sure you are not using their money to pay £200,000 for a property that is only worth £175,000.

They want to be sure that if you hit financial problems and they need to repossess the property that if they need to sell it they will at least get there money back.

In this situation the surveyor will only normally be interested in major structural defects or things like subsidence that will have a direct affect on the value of the property.

Different Types of Property Survey

Valuation Survey

This is the standard and is what will be required by the lender before they lend you the money for a mortgage. Normally, you would pay for this but really it is for the lender.

There is not obligation for the lender to show you this report, however if you have a good relationship with your lender or a good broker, you can normally get a hold of it.


As mentioned earlier, it’s main purpose is to make sure the property is sound and that it is worth at least what you are planning to pay for it.

Home Buyers Survey and Valuation (HSV)

This is the mid-level survey. It is more in-depth than a basic mortgage lenders valuation but not as in-depth as a full structural survey.

It will highlight areas of urgent repair and give you an idea of things that will need to be addressed in the short term that will potentially cost money. As well as providing you with info on rebuild cost, it will also draw your attention to things that might affect the value of the property.

It covers some of the same ground as the valuation survey, but it covers things in more depth.

Building Survey

This is the top level property survey and is much more extensive. It can also be very bespoke. For example you can even extend the survey beyond the building itself and into the immediate environment (within reason)

This survey can go into some detail and when looked at for the first time normally scares most people.

If you do commission this sort of property survey then don’t be surprised if when it comes back you are left thinking your property is about to fall down around you any second. This is perhaps a normal thing to think, when you don’t have experience of looking at building surveys.

Instead of panicking speak to your surveyor and get a full understanding of what is normal for the type and age of property you are buying and again get clarification of exactly what is going to need doing in the near future i.e. next few months or years.

As well as this, make sure you clarify if there is anything that is immediately unsafe that needs to be put right straight away. This is the sort of thing that you can either get the vendor to put right or knock the asking price down so you can put it right yourself.

With this type of survey you need to make sure that you specify to the surveyor if there is anything in particular that you would like him to highlight. For example, if you have notice a wall that seems to be leaning in a wrong direction or if you think the roof might to need repairing or replacing soon.

Now the two final questions remain.

  1. How to Survey Property?
  2. How much does a property survey cost?

And read below to find out about the cost of a property survey.

The cost of a property survey will obviously vary depending where you are in the UK. You also need to keep in mind the type of property. David Beckhams Mansion will cost more to survey than a three bed semi in Leeds. That said, we have given you some guidelines below based on the average.

A valuation Survey = £100 – £250

A home buyers survey and valuation = £250 – £450

A Building survey = £450 – £800 however some surveyors charge well over £1000 for this.

**Nothing on this website should be confused with financial or legal advice. If you need this, or any other type of advice, please seek the help of a competent professional. In addition, because real estate laws change all the time and differ from state to state, and even city to city in the same state, everything in these pages should be considered general marketing advice and ideas. Please see link to full Disclaimer at the bottom of this page.

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